Pile O’ Palletted Pigs

Pile of Pigs in North Herd

Pigs are not early risers. A few might get up for a sunrise snack but it is very common for the majority of the herd to sleep in until mid-morning. These finishers in the north home field winter paddock are giving me the eye, wondering if perhaps I might have a treat that would be worth rousting themselves early.

To either side of them are large round bales of hay lined up to block the prevailing winds. The pallets protect the bales from the pigs. When I’m ready to feed out a bale I simply move a few pallets and roll out a bale. I say simply… the bales weigh 1,200 lbs. I’m wishing I could get the pigs to help – often they’re on the other side of a push while we try to roll a bale!

We have several lines of these hay bales in their winter paddocks. The alley’s of bales open up into the winter field. Actually, they can get out to the bigger fields they use in the summer, although for the winter they don’t tend to. Rather the pigs stick closer to home for the winter, using established trails through the deep snow and choosing to spend most of their days in the ‘pig yards’ much as deer do in ‘deer yards’ when the snows get deep.

Outdoors: 13°F/-7°F Mostly Sunny
Farm House: 55°F/43°F
Tiny Cottage: 54°F/48°F

11 thoughts on “Pile O’ Palletted Pigs

  1. I sure wish we could get round bales here. All our hay is put up in one ton squares. I whined enough that I did get about 12 tons in small 100# bales, but the rest of the hay is all big squares. It doesn’t unroll quite as nicely when you bump it with the pickup :)

  2. Hey Walter! Thanks for your posts on my blog (uh, I haven’t been there in a few weeks…).

    I’d also like to thank you for, you know, giving me something to read when there’s nothing going on at work. I don’t know how else I’d get through it. ; )

  3. do you provide any sort of roofed shelter for your main pig herd, or are the alleys between bales the extent of it?

    I’ve got 14 pigs near seattle; marine climate means that we don’t get much colder than 30s most of the winter, but I’ve been feeling guilty they don’t have a nice hay-filled loafing shed to retreat to.

  4. Farmwife, Hmm… Rolling one ton square bales by hand… that would be a trick! There is a farm north of us that has large square bales. I’ve seen them piled out in the field. Huge suckers. The advantage I see is they stack more neatly and densely but as you note, they’re hard to move by hand.

    We’ve been thinking about ways of setting up our bales for the winter so that if we didn’t have the tractor available then we would still be able to feed. Thus the lines of bales. That they serve as a wind break, which I admit I planned, is a big bonus. The pallets seem to be keeping them secure.

    Bruceki, we do have roof shelters as well although the pigs seem to often prefer to sleep out under the stars when the weather is inviting. Nature lovers I guess, or perhaps they’re astronomers, or maybe astrologers. See these posts for some of our roofed housing which is also off the winter paddocks:
    House End Shed
    Winter Animal Shelter
    Winter Pig Dens
    Pig House Warming
    Flop’s Winter Farrowing
    Winter Hen Coop

    Your situation with the weather being around freezing is actually much harder to deal with than our situation where the world stays frozen solid for many months on end. You get wetness, rain, soaked bedding. It is like our brief mud seasons at either end of winter. During those short periods of a week or two we’ll go through a huge amount of bedding hay due to all the water being tracked in and nobody is happy about it.

    On the other hand, during the real winter here we just get snow and it stays relatively dry. It is much more comfortable to be snowy and dry at 10째F or even in the negatives. It is the wet during mud season that is the bother.

    The one issue, during mud season and winter, is wind. We’re up on the mountain so there is a lot of wind. Fortunately the ridge blocks and lifts most of it. I build hedge rows to lift the wind more. Just getting the wind of you makes a huge difference in the winter.

  5. I very much enjoy the site, it is nice for us readers that you take such an interest in sharing. Thank you. Your winter situation seems to fly in the face of every bit of advice I have ever been told on hogs. Do you use any form of additional heat? Are the little ones under lamps? Have you had loss due to prolonged cold weather? I have raised pigs through the heat of summer because I did not think I could over winter due to lack of expensive shelter. Your wintering gives me hope. Thanks again. Erik

  6. Walter,

    I have to confess that the first thing I think seeing them all cozy together like that is “Whee! Parasite Paradise!” But that’s probably just because I look at dog doo under the microscope all day in search of said creatures.

    Your pigs look anything but worm-ridden. It sounds like you are…

    -Rotating pastures
    -Segregating age groups somewhat (keeping weaners and breeding sows separate)?
    -Worming with garlic/diatomaceous earth?
    -Using a clean springwater supply
    -Deworming the dogs so they don’t spread things
    -Breeding for general hardiness
    -Living in Vermont where winter freezes out anything without a parka or blubber layer (ie worm eggs).

    That’s pretty thorough. So if I may ask, what has been your experience with the worms? Any times that were worse than others? I remember you posting once about examining poops for signs of parasites… what did you look for? I want all the gory details. (If you want, I can tell you how to do the $15 vet exam yourself. If you can convince the high school to let you borrow a microscope for minute. ;)

    -A curious parasitologist

  7. CESO- love it! I’d begun thinking of schools that way but hadn’t come up with the correlating name. : )

    I think we’re going to want to home-school our kids for all of the above reasons (plus, why send them to school just when they get old enough to be really useful?) There’s one thing I want to try to figure out how to do though. I’ve wound up teaching big groups of Boy Scouts a few times, and in every group there’s one or two kids who just don’t know how to sit down and listen to a lesson; they think it’s a two-way conversation between them and the teacher (with an audience- wait, hang on, you mean there are other people in the room?). Not always, but about 2 times out of 3 they’re homeschooled. I wonder if this is an effect of homeschooling or a cause. ; )

    The thing is, I don’t really feel like sitting quiet so people can force-feed you information without you really engaging at all is an important skill. So what if you can’t do Industrialized Learning? You’ll have an edge where you have to learn without a lecturer to tell you what’s what. My impression was that Boy Scouts was designed to give kids some intergenerational socialization to counteract the effects of schooling, and then they throw together these big Merit Badge Powwows where they’re all crammed in a classroom 20:1 with an anonymous teacher so they can get those merit badges. That’s right, I felt pretty frustrated about that. : )

  8. I told my daughter on day that the reason I liked pigs so much is because, like me, they were not early risers. She says…how do you know they are not up before you if you are not up to see if they are up in the mornings…logic…hummppghh…
    The adult sows, boars, & feeders are the ones who sleep in…the babies however are out cruising. I know this because I have gotten phone calls at 6 am to tell me the youngsters…100 pounds down to 15 pounds are all about a 1/2 mile away (all 65 of them) visiting the neighbors…it was time to heat up the electric fences again…;O)

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